Some people just seem to bounce back from whatever life throws at them. Whether it’s illness, loss, or tragedy, they do the tough work of picking themselves up, dusting themselves off, and carrying on—even when it seems impossible.
If you’ve ever thought, “I could never do that” when looking at one of these apparent “superheroes,” don’t be so sure. It’s actually possible to build resilience to make yourself better able to bounce back from even the most difficult times.
Frank Niles, PhD
“It’s the ability to get back in the game after you’ve had some sort of failure. And indeed, we can learn to become more resilient,” says social scientist and leadership expert Frank Niles, PhD. Niles says there are a number of science-backed areas people can address to help them be more resilient.
Here are some ways you can shore up your “resilience bunker” to better prepare for when tough times strike.
PREPARE FOR THE WORST
Niles says the concept of “preparing” for bad times often throws people off. “They’re like, ‘Wait a minute. A disastrous change is like losing a job. How do I prepare for that?’” It starts with mind-set, he says. Accept that change is inevitable, and realize that you can choose how you react, and whether you decide to be optimistic. People with positive outlooks tend to have greater resilience and financial and business success.
When possible, lay the groundwork for recovery before you need to: Keep your skills up to date to stay in demand in the market, have a financial reserve in case of job loss or illness, etc. Of course, tragedy or devastating events can disrupt the best-laid plans, but developing the right mind-set—including the ability to reframe negative events—and taking action to mitigate potential damage where you can may go a long way in helping you recover in a worst-case scenario.
BE EMOTIONALLY SELF-AWARE
“Your ability to become and remain resilient is directly related to your emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand your mood and emotions, be aware of the moods and emotions of others, and to use this awareness to guide your behavior. Emotional intelligence determines how you interact with others, manage relationships, stay motivated, make decisions, manage your emotions, influence others, and much more,” says organizational communication and leadership expert Anne Grady, author of Strong Enough: Choosing Courage, Resilience and Triumph.
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